Sharad Pawar for easing COVID-19 lockdown restrictions

Updated: Jul 04, 2020, 07:51 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

In meet with CM, makes suggestions for COVID-19 mitigation, lockdown-like measures for unlock

Sharad Pawar. Pic/PTI
Sharad Pawar. Pic/PTI

Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar on Friday met Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to discuss issues related to the unlocking measures that have created confusion among people in the state and also exposed a lack of coordination within the Maha Vikas Aghadi partners.

Pawar has conferred with Thackeray whenever the situation appeared to be going beyond control. The MMR and various cities have seen a steep spike in the COVID cases in the unlocking period of 30 days. An alarmed CM has made restrictions even stricter in some areas, especially MMR. But the NCP and Congress are reported to have disputed some decisions that they say were taken without their knowledge and caused inconvenience to the people and defeated the very purpose of unlocking — Mission Begin Again.

It was learnt that Pawar has suggested that the government should be lenient as far as encouraging people's participation in commercial activities is concerned. The upper hand of the bureaucracy was also discussed, said sources, adding that Pawar felt that the public representatives must be given due importance and hearing before taking decisions because they get the feel of the ground through interaction with distressed people.

There have been strong murmurs that home minister Anil Deshmukh wasn't taken into confidence by the CMO before asking the Mumbai police to enforce the restriction on the movement beyond 2-km periphery. Congress and NCP ministers from the city, who have been asked to supervise the pandemic mitigation, also didn't know about it.

The periphery enforcement evoked a strong reaction from the people who were fined and their vehicles seized. The MVA partners have complained that the decision was unwarranted and caught the people unawares. In addition, the curfew that has been extended to 24 hours has also added to people's miseries. Sources said the home minister has told his party boss that he wasn't responsible for the periphery blockade.

Other than policy flip-flop in Mumbai, the haphazard and localised decisions taken by the administration of the MMR's various areas and district authorities have impacted the promise of easing life because there was no coordination between these independent entities which share boundaries and depend so much on each other for human resource that is eager to make a living post-lockdown.

Sources said the MVA partners are also upset because in his latest speeches made in Mumbai and Pandharpur, the CM had created an impression that the government was helpless in mitigating the pandemic. Earlier, Congress expressed its displeasure and now it's NCP's turn.

China issue

In another battle, the NCP and Congress are arguing over Pawar's statement that the parties should not politicise the China border issue. The former defence minister angered the Congress saying that the Chinese had already usurped Indian land in the 1962 war and subsequently efforts would have been made to regain lost geography. The Congress saw this as Pawar's support to PM Narendra Modi while Shiv Sena said the NCP boss had also cautioned the BJP against politicising the sensitive issue.

Naturally, the latest internal dispute involving the NCP's apex leader is seen as a destabilising factor, though not very immediate threat, for the MVA, especially following the Congress leaders' meeting with Thackeray who was reportedly told that the CMO was unjust to their ministers in deciding policy matters and also given short shrift by senior bureaucrats.

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